Series: 2749 - 2773
Constructor: Reggio Emilia
Location: Goas - Netherlands
Accessible To The Public: Can be viewed
Exterior Condition: Poor, but complete & original except for some doors
Interior Condition: Stripped out. Saloon is complete, but missing kitchen, pantry & wine cellar
Restoration Status: Yes - Extensive work underway
A Carriage With History
Few continental CIWL carriages ever crossed the channel and if they did so, it was a one way trip only. We know about the numerous steel sleeping, restaurant and Pullman cars ordered by the British rolling stock manufacturers between 1920 and 1929, which usually crossed from Harwich to Zeebrugge (Belgium). In the opposite direction there are far less, such as WR2975 and 3916 which arrived in Peterborough in 1978 and 1979 respectively. Only one carriage made the voyage both ways, with just over 30 years in between. Of course, this is about WR 2757, which arrived in Denham via Harwich in May 1973, was subsequently moved to Southall and left in February 2004 via Dartford on its way to Flushing and its present location in Goes.
Built as part of a series of 25 (2749 - 2773) dining cars is what we believe, but actually these 25 were divided up in three sub-series: 2749 - 2758, for internal use in Italy, then 2759 - 2768 for international use on the continent and the remaining 2769 - 2773 for use in Italy. All carriages with a seating capacity of 56 were delivered with goldleaf inscriptions whereas the monogramme, instead of the bronze crest we know, was a sticker. The carriages were not meant for luxury trains, so this outfit was considered appropriate. The difference between the carriages for use within Italy and the international ones was essentially the electricity supply. The international carriages were equipped with a belt driven dynamo, which kept the batteries charged. The others however, had a set of removable batteries, as customary with Italian Railways, which could be replaced by charged ones during the turn-around at terminal stations.
Delivery of the 25 carriages took place between December 1926 and November 1927 at an average rate of just over 2 units per month. 2757 rolled out on April 7th 1927 to be put on display on the Milan trade fair later that month. She officially entered CIWL on May 10th and active service started with the 1927 summer schedule, attached to the Direction Rome, on services between Genoa and Culoz (France) her only foreign destination till WWII, between 1928 and 1942 she ran in trains from Rome and Milan to destinations like Venice, Trieste, Bologna, Naples, Turin and Florence.
The war disrupted internal traffic and 2757 was made available to the Italian military authorities and became part of the "train sanitaire No 1". Later, the allied forces used 2757 for military trains and in 1947 she ran in the "Blue Train". Most likely this was one of the MEDLOC trains which ran for British servicemen from Milan to the French Channel ports and subsequently from Villach to Calais and the Hook.
The peace treaty with Italy was signed in September 1947 and this meant the return of Italian railway stock to Italy for use on the national network. By the end of 1947, 2757 resumed services on the route of the Direct Orient Express, between Milan and Venice, Vallorbe - Milan as well as Genoa - Ventimiglia and Turin. CIWL then rationalized the organisation of the services and 2757 became part of the group carriages with 56 seats, based in Milan till 1962 then Rome. During these years the diner could be spotted on any of the national Expresses from Milan, the most prestigious being the "Trenno Azzurro" a daily first and second class only Express between Milan and Naples which included a couplage Cote d'Azur type 1st class Pullman cars.
Due to the need to modernise Italian railways and to allow for higher speeds of its long distance services, all carriages not fitted with roller bearings were taken out of service by the end of 1965. Together with numerous other carriages, 2757 was set aside in Milan and moved to Rome in 1967, where she was put up for sale.
Whether by coincidence or intentionally because of its use in MEDLOC trains, IND COOPE Ltd purchased 2757 in August 1972 and after some repairs carried out in the Saint Denis workshop, near Paris, was moved to Denham to serve as the dining room of the Denham Inn.
Usually CIWL would sell its rolling stock as is where is. Therefore we may safely assume that 2757 arrived in Denham fully equipped with most fittings present. However, it is good to know that during her last years of service some modifications were carried out. In the mid-fifties a through high-Voltage connection was fitted and in the early sixties the cotton 'brise-bise' were replaced with glass panels placed in front of the windows so the original hooks could be removed. Also the coat hooks were removed and the screw holes puttied up.
Unfortunately, during her last years at Denham once the Inn had been closed to the public, many parts disappeared and when the Great Western Preservation Group acquired 2757, many interior and external fittings were missing. In part these were substituted with tables and luggage racks from sister carriage 2752, which was at that time standing at the Oostende CIWL workshop. Nevertheless, the original battery boxes, kitchen, office and heating boiler were completely removed and replaced with more up to date equipment.
After arrival in Goes as part of the collection of SGB (Stoomtrein Goes - Borsele), plans are being drawn up to restore the carriage in its original condition. This meant not only a full inventory of the present physical condition, but more importantly a whole load of research into the history of the carriage, its original appearance and equipment as well as trying to locate spare parts, to reduce the quantity of remakes. For this purpose, the carriage is being stripped of its interior.